With immigration into Australia forecast by the federal government to collapse by 85% in the two years from 2019 because of COVID-19, there was some hoping that immigration could be rebooted by granting massive numbers of visas to Hong Kongers wishing to flee Chinese Communist Party (CCP) tyranny.
Others, like William Bourke from the Sustainable Australia Party were concerned that “well-off [Hong Kong] migrants could drive Sydney and Melbourne housing prices to levels even more unaffordable for ordinary Australians” if massive numbers were suddenly granted asylum.
As it turns out, only around 10,000 Hong Kongers already residing in Australia on temporary visas will be eligible to apply for permanent residency:
Some 10,000 Hong Kong passport holders in Australia will have the opportunity to apply for permanent residency once their visa runs out, Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge says… That includes… mainly students and skilled visa holders.
But Mr Tudge could not guarantee these people would be successful in their application.
“You would still have to apply for it. You still have to pass the character test, the national security test and the like,” Mr Tudge said.
“So it’s not automatic. But it’s certainly an easier pathway to permanent residency. And of course, once you’re a permanent resident, there’s then a pathway to citizenship there.”
The upshot is that these new visa arrangements for Hong Kongers will have minimal impact on the Australian housing market. The numbers are small in the overall scheme of things and those that do end up qualifying for permanent residency are already here.
Thus, the headwinds facing the Australian property market remain the same:
- Collapsing immigration;
- High unemployment and falling household incomes;
- Massive oversupply as huge numbers of apartments are completed, immigration collapses, and short-term-rentals (e.g. Airbnbs) flood the long-term market; and
- Tapering of emergency income support and mortgage repayment holidays.
Melbourne is most exposed given its extreme reliance on immigration and structurally weak economy, made worse by the second lockdown.